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Period c. 1200 YP
Spoken in lower Xōron Eiel
Total speakers c. 80,000
Writing system adapted
Tjakori script
Classification Edastean
  Steppe Dāiadak
Basic word order V2
Morphology fusional, synthetic
Alignment NOM-ACC
Created by Cedh

Kuyʔūn (from Adāta koia ax xōron, 'speech of the steppe') is a rather peripheral language of the Edastean family, descended from Adāta. It was spoken during the first quarter of the second millennium YP in the lower reaches of the Xōron Eiel, centered on the three only true cities of the region, Cexotúri (Adāta: Tikhōdōzē), Mešmo (Ad. Meximō), and Aylatu (Ad. Eieliatus). However, even though it enjoyed some use as a local lingua franca in the interaction of the city-dwellers with the surrounding nomadic Habeo tribes, the reach of the language did not extend far from the banks of the Eigə river. Even in the cities themselves there was a substantial percentage of native speakers of Habeo languages, up to c. 60% in the case of Aylatu. As can be expected, Kuyʔūn showed a great deal of influence from these languages in phonology, grammar, and lexicon.

As a diaspora language spread out over a rather large territory, Kuyʔūn exhibited significant dialectal variation. The name of the language shall serve as an example here: kuyʔūn [kʊɪˈʔuːn] is the Aylatu form; Mešmo had koyʔōn [kɔɪˈʔoːn], and Cexotúri had koyhǫ [kɔɪˈhɔ̃ː]. This grammar sketch will focus on the speech of Mešmo and environs; while far from being officially standardised, that variant formed an intermediate between the other two major dialects in many respects.

History and context


  • Ndak Ta (c. -1900 YP)
    • Adāta (c. 0-200 YP)
      • Kuyʔūn (c. 1200 YP)
        • Upper Kuyʔūn (Aylatu dialect)
        • Middle Kuyʔūn (Mešmo dialect)
        • Lower Kuyʔūn (Cexotúri dialect)

Historical background

For millennia the Xōron Eiel had been a domain of nomadic peoples, organised as clans of a few dozen to a few hundred people, which were in turn regarded as belonging to one of several ethnicities we might call 'tribes'. These peoples roamed the steppe on horseback, leading their robust cattle to fresh meadows every few weeks. In a few extraordinarily fertile places along the Eigə and its tributaries they had villages which practised some agriculture, but in general their lifestyle was pastoralist. During the 'Dark Ages' after the fall of the Ndak Empire, some of these tribes had had empires of their own, occasionally conquering lands as far downriver as Lasomo or Buruya, but usually did not manage to control the civilised Edák peoples for long. By the time of the Dāiadak prophet Zārakātias, the Xōron was what it had always been: a sparsely populated grassland, fairly uninteresting politically or economically.

The situation changed a few centuries later. Word had reached the steppe that the most powerful neighboring nation, the Empire of Athalē centered on the Rathedān highlands to the south, had gained much of its power by trading goods between the Tjakori region on the other side of the highlands and downriver countries of the Eigə valley such as Lasomo and Huyfárah. The Habeo chieftain Šokamɨsanaʔ, whose tribe ruled over almost the whole valley of the Tawɨʔɨya river, decided to participate in that power. Since the Tawɨʔɨya headwaters bordered Tjakori territory, it was fairly easy for him to establish a trade route to Lasomo which bypassed the Rathedān - all he had to do was ensure control over the Habeo and Meshi tribes inhabiting the portion of the Eigə below the Tawɨʔɨya confluence. What he had not foreseen, however, was the fierce reaction of the Dāiadak: In 326 YP, the new Athalēran emperor Texozonon I invaded the lower Xōron in order to ward off this unwanted competition. A series of wars commenced, with borders fluctuating for more than a decade. In the end, the Habeo could not stand up to the well-trained Athalēran army. By 340 YP the entire Xōron Eiel had been incorporated into the Empire of Athalē.

Dāiadak garrisons were established at major strategic points, and settlers soon followed.

To Be Continued...
Cedh is still working on this section. The contents are incomplete and likely to undergo changes.


As mentioned before, Kuyʔūn exhibited significant dialectal variation between the three relatively isolated main population centres, each of which bordered territory dominated by different native languages of the Habeo and Meshi families. The following section attempts to give a quick overview about the characteristics of each dialect.

Cexotúri dialect

Cexotúri (Ad. Tikhōdōzē) was located at the confluence of the Thabīa river into the Eigə, only 200km northwest of Khalanu. As a result, the inhabitants of this town had far more opportunities to interact with people from the middle Eigə or from the Dāiadak heartland in the Rathedān. This was clearly evident in the language: Firstly, Cexotúri was the Kuyʔūn dialect that contained the largest percentage of words of Dāiadak origin, both inherited (i.e. not being replaced by non-Dāiadak loans) and borrowed (from neighbouring Dāiadak languages such as Mavakhalan and Adhāsth). Secondly, its phonological system was rather conservative, preserving several contrasts that were lost in the more remote dialects but present in Mavakhalan, e.g. distinct /ɸ x h/ where Mešmo and Aylatu had only /ʔ/, distinct /l ʎ ɹ/ where Mešmo and Aylatu had only /l/, and distinct /n ɲ/ where Mešmo and Aylatu had only /n/. For some other phonemes the Cexotúri dialect also retained a more conservative pronunciation, such as [θ] for Mešmo/Aylatu ł (the primary source of which was Adāta ). Thirdly, it featured a few innovations more in line with Mavakhalan than with the rest of the Kuyʔūn dialects, such as the merger of XVA *q *k, the replacement of phonemic vowel length with a quality-based seven-vowel-system /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, and the creation of nasalised vowels.

Phoneme inventory of Cexotúri Koyhǫ:

  • /p t ʦ ʨ k ɸ θ s ɕ x h m n ɲ l ʎ ɹ β̞ j/ - p t c č k f θ s š x h m n ň l ľ r w y
  • /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/ - i ê e a o ô u
  • /ɛ̃ ɑ̃ ɔ̃/ - ę ą ǫ

Aylatu dialect

Aylatu (Ad. Eieliatus) was the smallest and most remote of the Kuyʔūn-speaking cities, located in the heart of the Xōron Eiel. Over half its population natively spoke a variety of Habeo, with Kuyʔūn holding the position of lingua franca of a precarious economical and political elite. Accordingly, the speech of Aylatu showed the strongest Habeo influence of all three major Kuyʔūn dialects. This was most obvious in the huge portion of borrowed vocabulary, but also in the phonological structure of the language: Aylatu Kuyʔūn had collapsed more distinctions in the phonemic inventory than both sister dialects, especially in the vowel system which distinguished only three qualities. It made up for this with some additional palatalisation before XVA *e eː, by a more frequent use of diphthongs, and by a more thorough retention of vowel length distinctions in unstressed syllables.

Phoneme inventory of Aylatu Kuyʔūn:

  • /p t (ƛ) ʦ ʧ k q ʔ s ʃ m n l ɬ w j/ - p t (tl) c č k q ʔ s š m n l ł w y
  • /i a u iː aː uː/ - i a u ī ā ū

(The phonemic status of tl is debatable since it did not contrast with [plosive]+/ɬ/.)

Mešmo dialect

The dialect of Mešmo (Ad. Meximō), a town at the confluence of the Meshi river into the Eigə, forms the basis for this grammar sketch and will therefore receive the most detailed description anyway. It was in many respects intermediate between the dialects of Cexotúri and Aylatu, sharing most vowel developments with the former variety and most consonant developments with the latter one. Among its unique features were a true four-vowel system with contrastive length, the retention of word-final h from Adāta s (which merged with š for most speakers in rural areas, the resulting phoneme being pronounced as [x~ç]), a high frequency of glottalised resonants (from underlying clusters), and the adoption of many Meshi loanwords.

Phoneme inventory of Mešmo Koyʔōn:

  • /p t ʦ ʧ k q ʔ s ʃ (h) m n l ɬ w j/ - p t c č k q ʔ s š (h) m n l ł w y
  • /i ɛ ɑ o iː ɛː ɑː oː/ - i e a o ī ē ā ō

(The phonemic status of h is debatable since it was in complementary distribution with /ʔ/.)


Sound changes

Main article: Kuyʔūn/Sound changes

Phoneme inventory

The Mešmo dialect of Kuyʔūn distinguished the following phonemes:


  labial     dental   alveolar   palatal     velar     uvular     glottal  
plosive p t ʦ ʧ k q ʔ
fricative ɬ s ʃ (h)
nasal m n
  approximant w l j
  • /ʦ ʧ ʃ ɬ j/ are traditionally transcribed as c č š ł y, and /w/ is written u in coda position. All other consonant phonemes are written as in IPA.
  • h occured only word-finally and was therefore in complementary distribution with ʔ. It is nevertheless written with its own grapheme.
  • ʔ contrasted with zero onset morpheme-initially, which was most obvious with the addition of prefixes.


  front     back  
  high i · iː o · oː
low ɛ · ɛː ɑ · ɑː
  • The four basic vowel qualities are represented by i e a o.
  • Long vowels are written with a macron: ī ē ā ō.


Syllable structure

The basic syllable structure of Mešmo Kuyʔūn was (C)(l,j)V(ː,n,s,ʃ)(C).

Elaborating this, a null onset was only possible word-initially. All morphological vowel hiatus was either contracted into a long vowel or a vowel-glide-combination, or broken up with an epenthetic glide. Borrowed words with vowel hiatus in the source language occasionally featured epenthetic ʔ as an additional option.

All consonants except h did occur in syllable onsets. The only common syllable-initial clusters were py ty ky; a few words with onset pl tl kl existed as well. Some scholars also posit underlying /pw tw kw/ clusters; however, this seems to be based more on a desire for symmetry than anything else because at least in urban Mešmo the labial glide never surfaced as an independent segment in postconsonantal position.

Coda clusters could only consist of a plosive preceded by /s ʃ/ or a homoorganic nasal, that is, sp st sk šp št šk mp nt nk. All of these were extremely rare, occurring only in morpheme-final position.

Most single consonants were allowed to appear in a syllable coda, with some positional restrictions which are mostly covered by the list of morphophonological processes outlined below. An important general observation is that phonetic diphthongs did not occur before coda consonants, which is the main reason to analyse phonetic [ɑɪ ɑʊ] etc. as /ɑ/ followed by a consonantal coda glide on the phonemic level. Interestingly, long vowels did occur before all single coda consonants except w y.

All consonants except ʔ h could appear as geminates. Most geminates were fairly common, but qq łł ww yy were extremely rare. Geminates could not be preceded by a long vowel or a diphthong.

Syllables adjacent to the main stress generally did not contain long vowels; however, diphthongs were allowed. With a few exceptions, the same applied for vowels in word-final position.


Kuyʔūn had a dynamic stress accent. The placement of the accent was somewhat irregular; the most common position was the first syllable of the root, or, in compounds, the first syllable of the semantically more marked morpheme in the stem. Superheavy syllables which contained both a long vowel and a coda consonant usually attracted the accent from neighbouring syllables. Inflectional morphemes did not cause stress to move, with the arguable exception of pronominal case prefixes - all tonic forms of the personal pronouns invariably stressed the first syllable.

In scholarly transcription, the convention has been adopted to mark stress only when it did not fall on the last long vowel in a word, or else on the penultimate syllable. In this scheme, an acute accent is used to indicate stressed short vowels (á é í ó), and a circumflex to indicate stressed long vowels (â ê î ô).

Allophony and morphophonological variation

The Mešmo variant of Kuyʔūn did not exhibit much synchronic allophony for its phonemes. Some of the most relevant changes were:

  • Intervocalic /w/ was often pronounced as a purely labial approximant [β̞].
  • The clusters /ʔm ʔn ʔl ʔw ʔj/ were conflated to glottalised resonants [mˀ nˀ lˀ wˀ jˀ] for most speakers.
  • Word-final /h/ was [ç] when preceded by /i iː/, and [x] when preceded by /ɑ ɑː/. Some speakers, mostly from rural areas, had a palatal fricative also after /ɛ ɛː/ and a velar fricative also after /o oː/; these speakers usually merged word-final /ʃ/ into [ç~x] as well.
  • Consonants separated from /q/ by a single vowel only were pronounced as pharyngealised, even across word boundaries.
  • Short /i o/ were usually laxed to [ɪ ɔ] in closed syllables or when adjacent to /q/. However, /i/ remained [i] before nasal consonants.
  • Short /ɑ/ was laxed to [ɐ] in unstressed open syllables, sometimes approaching [ə] in word-final position.
  • /ɑj/ was fronted to [aɪ] when the next syllable contained a front vowel.
  • Otherwise, coda /j/ was pronounced as a non-syllabic [e̯] after /ɑ o/.
  • Vowel hiatus across word boundaries was resolved by the insertion of phonetic glides; usually [j] after /i/, [w] after /o/, and [ɦ] after /ɑ/. Speakers varied as to which glide to insert after /ɛ/; most had [ɦ] but some had [j] instead. If the second vowel was unstressed /i/ or /o/, the two syllables could often be alternatively contracted into a diphthong.

In addition to this, several morphophonological alternations existed, which had to be taken into account when dealing with the rather extensive morphology of the language.

NB: Not all of the rules below applied without exception.

  • All non-glottal plosives reduced to ʔ before a voiced consonant.
  • c č q merged into t t k before a fricative.
  • c č deaffricated to s š before a plosive and word-finally.
  • t k q usually became c č k before morphological /j/ (however, this rule was not phonetically productive).
  • Occasionally, plosives preceded by a nasal consonant softened to form geminate nasals.
  • Nasal consonants assimilated in POA to any following consonant except /w j/.
  • All underlying fricatives disappeared with lengthening of preceding vowels before a consonant other than /w j/.
  • s š fortified to c č after a nasal.
  • ł s became h word-finally.
  • l became u in coda position.
  • i merged into e adjacent to /q/ and when preceded by /j/.
  • Sequences of a short vowel followed by a coda semivowel were smoothed to long monophthongs when another consonant was added to the syllable coda: /iw ɛw ɑw ɛj ɑj oj/ > ī ō ō ī ē ē. Underlying /ow ij/ surfaced as ō ī unless followed by a vowel.
  • Similarly, postconsonantal /w/ coalesced with following vowels, preserving the original length value: /wi wɛ wɑ wo/ > oj/e o o o.
  • Long vowels became short before geminate consonants or word-finally.
  • Long vowels were normally shortened when adjacent to a more prominent syllable (i.e. bearing at least secondary stress), especially if that syllable also contained a long vowel. Notable exceptions include the passive voice marker which always contained a long /oː/ even when immediately preceded by an accented syllable, some plural forms of adjectives, and the ablative-partitive and relational-causal cases of the 3pl inanimate pronoun.



The verbal system of Kuyʔūn was mostly based on the categories and affixes inherited from Adāta: Mood, polarity, and emphasis (the latter derived from the Adāta preverbal particle) were marked with prefixes, while aspect and number were signified through a single fusional suffix. The morphological distinction between active and passive voice, however, had been leveled through sound changes, and so new voice suffixes were introduced through verb compounding (a development shared with Mavakhalan).

A unique feature of the Kuyʔūn verb, setting it apart from all other Dāiadak languages, was the advent of a classifier system which can only be explained with deep-rooting influence from native Habeo speakers learning Adāta as a second language.

The morphological template for Kuyʔūn verbs was as follows:

   (emphasis)       polarity/mood       (classifier)       verb stem       voice       aspect/number   

Most Kuyʔūn verbs had two different stem forms: the so-called primary stem, often ending in a consonant, which was used for the habitual aspect, and the secondary stem, marked by an additional stem vowel and sometimes also featuring consonant mutations, which formed the basis for the perfective and progressive aspects.

The citation form is the primary stem, which is usually identical to the habitual singular indicative active with no classifier. Secondary stems will be given in the lexicon for all verbs.

Mood, polarity, and emphasis

Kuyʔūn inherited most of its mood prefixes from Adāta; however, the benefactive and futilitive moods were lost, and a new subjunctive mood was created from the quotative particle .

The irregular negative forms of consonant-initial modal prefixes were analogically prefixed with m- at some point. As a result, the reflex of the affirmative particle ro, which had turned into an obligatory prefix for all positive verb forms, became morphologically redundant and was reanalysed as an optional emphasis marker. Only the optative mood retained traces of this marker in the regular modal morphology.

After this, the Mešmo and Aylatu dialects began using the emphasis marker as a fully independent affix, applying it even to negative forms. (It remains a compulsory affirmative-only marker in the dialect of Cexotúri.)

Most modal prefixes had different variants depending on whether they were followed by a vowel or a consonant. Because of this, and because the negative marker m- sometimes replaced material from the corresponding affirmative marker, the combined affixes will be given in the table below.

affirmative negative
ordinary emphatic ordinary emphatic
     _C           _V           _C           _V           _C           _V           _C           _V     
indicative Ø- lo- l- ma- m- loma- lom-
imperative yay- lay- may- lomay-
optative lo- lok- lolo- lolok- mo- mok- lomo- lomok-
obligative so- s- los- mas- lomas-
conditional po- pal- lopo- lopal- mapo- maʔl- lommo- lommal-
   subjunctive lī- liy- lolī- loliy- mī- miy- lomī- lomiy-

A few of these prefixes had predictable variants in certain situations:

  • The indicative negative prefixes ma- and loma- changed their final vowel into e when followed by one of /ʦ ʧ ʃ pj tj kj/ and some instances of /n l/, notably before the flat classifier.
  • The final /s/ of the obligative prefixes became ʔ before /m n/, š before /ʧ ʃ/, and coalesced with /j l/ into š ł.
  • The imperative prefixes changed to iʔ-, liʔ-, miʔ-, lomiʔ- before /i iː/.
  • Similarly, the final /j/ of the subjunctive prefixes became ʔ before /i iː/, causing partial homophony with the imperative.
  • The long /iː/ of the preconsonantal subjunctive prefixes became ē before /q/. Also, these vowels were shortened if the following syllable received primary stress.


At any point in time between c. 400 and 1200 YP, native Habeo speakers made up between one and two thirds of the population in the Xōron towns. The economical and political elite, however, consisted of ethnic Dāiadak - and so the natives were required to learn Adāta if they wanted to participate in urban business. Since the Habeo languages were highly synthetic, incorporating various types of adjectivials into nouns and adverbials or even other full verbs into the main verb of a clause, it was only natural for them to emulate the Habeo classifier system by forming noun-verb compounds with suitable Adāta lexemes. Over the course of time, this habit was adopted by more and more people of Dāiadak origin, and the most common nouns used for compounding were solidified into a more or less fixed set of grammaticalised classifiers.

Verbal classifiers in Kuyʔūn were used in a way similar to incorporation. They could reference patients, themes, instruments, or less often, the time or location of the action. As all of these could either be left out or remain in place as an overt argument of the verb, classifiers provided a flexible way to reduce valency as necessary. Transitive verbs without a classifier were assumed to reference a discourse-proximate human, usually in the role of direct object; if all non-subject participants were non-human, a classifier was mandatory. An exception was formed by verbs whose object was a subclause, especially an abstract statement; such verbs did not use classifiers for the most part. A single verb could carry only one classifier at a time.

Depending on whether they were followed by a vowel or a consonant, many classifiers had different allomorphs. The table below lists the standard set of classifiers:

gloss _C _V
a slender rigid object stick -was- < basa "staff"
a slender flexible object string -ye- -yey- < dei "finger"
a bulky object round -ʔemas- -ʔenn- < hemaza "stack"
a flat object flat -ni- -ny- < neia "leaf, sheet"
a container bowl -ałi- -aʔl- < rather "jar"
a fluid liq -to- -t- < "lake, body of water"
solid food food -may- -nk- < mik "bread, meal"
a tool or weapon tool -yeš- < iāsi "tool"
a time or location time/loc -ʔi- -ʔiy- < heia "space, room, area"
an animal animal -iš- -ič- < eika "animal"
a human opponent foe -yap- < dāpu "warrior"
a human friend or supporter friend -yo- -yow- < iēbu "believer, follower"
a human (neutral) - -Ø-

Some predictable interaction with neighbouring morphemes based on the choice of classifier:

  • Stem-initial /t k ʔ s/ became c č š š when preceded by a string, flat, tool, or time/loc classifier.
  • Stem-initial /i iː/ became e ē when preceded by a string, flat, or time/loc classifier.
  • Unstressed stem-initial /ɑ ɛ i ɑj/ became o o oy oy (preserving underlying length) when preceded by a liq or foe classifier, with /oj/ further changing to ē if the stem-initial syllable was closed.
  • The prevocalic variant of the food classifier changed to mik- when not preceded by another prefix, i.e. in the affirmative indicative.
  • The tool and friend classifiers selected the prevocalic allomorph of preceding mood/polarity prefixes instead of the expected preconsonantal one, inserting an epenthetic i if the prefix contained no vowel of its own. The final /k/ of the optative prefixes combined with the initial onglide of these classifiers to become č.
  • Classifier-final /i/ became e before stems beginning with /q/.
  • The final /p/ of the foe classifier became ʔ when followed by one of /m n l/.
  • The final /s/ of the stick and round classifiers became ʔ when followed by one of /m n l/, and š when followed by one of /ʧ ʃ/.
  • The final /ʃ/ of the animal classifier became s before /ʦ s/. The final /ʃ/ of the tool classifier became s as well when followed by [ʦ] from underlying /t ʦ/, but not when followed by /s/.
  • The initial /i/ of the animal classifier became e when preceded by a subjunctive prefix.


Through sound change, most forms of the Adāta passive fell together with the corresponding active forms. Instead, periphrastic constructions based on a compound with the verb eula- "to take" were used to convey passive meanings (as in Mavakhalan). A reflexive voice was created along the same model from xāia- "to share", a causative voice from thaza- "to make, to do", and a passive-permissive voice from saphi- "to give".

Voice suffixes were normally added to the secondary stem of the verb. The voice markers themselves in turn behaved like normal verb stems, taking mostly regular aspect/number suffixes.

active -Ø-
passive -ōla-
reflexive -ʔaya-
causative -łala-
permissive -spi-

Only a few irregularities occurred with regard to voice marking:

  • The habitual singular forms of the passive, causative, and permissive voices were , -łau, and -spo respectively.
  • The passive and causative voices formed the habitual plural with the alternate suffix -ti, giving the combined markers -ōti and -łasti.
  • The long /oː/ of the passive voice caused deletion of preceding short unstressed /ɛ ɑ o/. Preceding short /i/ changed into y after single consonants, combining with /t k ʔ s/ to become c č š š. In all other cases where the passive marker was added to a vowel-final stem, an epenthetic consonant was inserted - y after /i iː ɛ ɛː/, and ʔ after /ɑ ɑː o oː/.
  • The initial /ʔ/ of the reflexive voice was dropped after a consonant.
  • The initial /ɬ/ of the causative voice hardened to t with dropping of the stem vowel if the last consonant before that was intervocalic /s ʃ m n l j w/, with assimilation of /m/ to /n/, and mutation of /l/ into either /w/ or /s/ depending on etymology; /s/ being the more common outcome.

Aspect and number

The fusional verbal endings which encoded both aspect and number were inherited from Adāta almost unchanged. Only some minor adjustments occurred, such as an early regularisation of the habitual singular which came to use the full stem instead of the shortened special form, and some generalisation of stem vowels and/or suffixes based on the passive inflections where active forms had become irregular, preventing these forms to merge with the more regular passives.

The basic aspect/number suffixes were as follows:

singular plural
habitual -łi
perfective -n -o
progressive -a

Morphological variation in aspect/number marking:

  • The habitual plural ending had the alternate form -ti, which was used when the last consonant of the secondary stem was an intervocalic instance of /s ʃ m n l/ (even though the primary stem was used for the hab.pl!). /-mti/ would assimilate to -nti, and /-lti -wti/ would usually (but not always) mutate to -sti.
  • If the primary stem ended in /ɬ/ followed by an unstressed vowel, the vowel would be dropped to yield geminate łł.
  • The perfective plural ending had the alternate form -me, which was used when the last consonant of the stem was a nasal. The stem vowel was dropped in this case, and the preceding nasal assimilated to form a geminate /mm/.
  • If the stem vowel was one of /ɑ o/, it combined with the perfective plural ending to become -au. Similarly, the perfective plural ending coalesced with unstressed stem-final /ɛ/ into -eu, and with unstressed stem-final /i/ into -yo (-iyo when preceded by a consonant cluster, and -o when preceded by one of /ʃ ʧ/).
  • The progressive singular ending changed the stem vowels /ɑ ɛ/ into i, with the exceptions that stressed short /ɑ/ became e instead, and that any sequence of /ji/ would dissimilate to /jɛ/.
  • The progressive plural ending coalesced with the stem vowel /ɛ/ to become -i (-e after /j/) and with the stem vowel /i/ to become -ay. The stem vowel /ɑ/ was deleted before this suffix. After the stem vowel /o/, an epenthetic w was inserted. If the secondary stem ended in stressed /ɛ/ or /i/ (regardless of length), the aforementioned vowel changes did not apply, and an epenthetic y was inserted before the perfective and progressive plural endings instead.

Non-finite forms

Kuyʔūn had an adjectivial participle that described the subject of a verb as being involved in the action. It was formed from the primary verb stem by adding -iyen after a consonant and -yen after a vowel. Inflection for voice was possible, the forms were -ōliyen (pass), -ʔayen (refl), -łaliyen (caus), and -spiyen (perm) respectively. The participle could optionally be preceded by a classifier and/or by the negative marker ma-/m-; however, inflections for emphasis, mood, aspect, and number were not used.

In addition to this, Kuyʔūn could also refer to the action as such by means of a verbal noun, which was formally identical to the participle, except that it could also inflect for emphasis and mood. The verbal noun could then take all standard nominal inflections, with possessive affixes referring to the subject. It was fairly common in speech because all verbs in relative clauses or adverbial phrases were inflected as a verbal noun.

The copula

The inflection of the Kuyʔūn copula was highly irregular, and somewhat defective as it did not inflect for voice or emphasis and could not take classifiers either. All extant affirmative forms are listed in the table below; negatives could be formed by replacing initial /l/ with m in the optative and subjunctive moods, prefixing mi- in the imperative, and prefixing ma- before consonants and m- before vowels in the other paradigms. The only exception was the indicative progressive singular, whose negative form prefixed me-.

singular plural verbal noun
habitual perfective progressive habitual perfective progressive
indicative ałe a ši ay pe ałi ecen
imperative yay ya yeš yay yau yeh yayen
optative lōq loka lōš lōłi lawe lōh lōčen
obligative so son soš sołi sowe soh seyen
conditional pōn pōš pōłi pawe pōh payen
subjunctive līn līš līłi liwe līh līyen


Kuyʔūn nouns inflected for four categories: case, number, definiteness, and possession. Case and possession were marked with agglutinative affixes (which were beginning to show some degree of fusional behaviour), while number and definiteness were conveyed by means of a single fusional affix derived from an article system formed during the Late Vulgar Adāta period.

The morphological template of Kuyʔūn nouns looked like this:

   case       number/definiteness       noun stem       (possession)   

Proper names did not inflect for number or definiteness - they were always considered definite -, but could take case and possession markers like other nouns. Case prefixes applying to proper names are orthographically separated by a hyphen, with the name itself capitalised: yo-Mešmo "to Mešmo".

Number and definiteness

Like its three geographically closest relatives Mavakhalan, Kozado, and Sawîyaran, Kuyʔūn developed a system of obligatory articles, which inflected for number and definiteness of their referent. In the XVA period these particles began to cliticise to their head noun and eventually became grammaticalised as fusional prefixes. The definite article was derived from the Adāta demonstrative (sg) / zēk (pl); the indefinite plural originated in a reanalysis of the collective prefix ā-. The indefinite singular was unmarked.

There were a number of mass nouns which had no singular forms, and collectives which were morphologically singular even if they had plural meaning. Apart from the fact that a part of their paradigm was missing, the inflection of such nouns was generally regular.

In addition to this, nouns preceded by a demonstrative did not take definite inflections.

The basic forms of the number/definiteness prefixes in the dialect of Mešmo were:

singular plural
indefinite Ø- a-
definite li- lik-

Depending on the shape of the word stem, some of these prefixes may select different allomorphs and/or cause a mutation of stem-initial consonants. For the most part such alternations were predictable; however, certain historical mergers rendered some of the conditions opaque. The selection of allomorphs can be summarised as follows:

  • The indefinite plural prefix changed to i- before stem-initial /ʦ ʧ ʃ pj tj kj/ and some instances of initial /n l/. It coalesced with stem-initial short /o/ into au- and with stem-initial /ɛ i iː/ into ay-, with stress shifting to the first part of the diphthong if necessary. Before all other stem-initial vowels, the allomorph aʔ- with an epenthetic glottal stop was used.
  • The definite singular prefix deleted stem-initial short /ɛ/, reduced to l- before /i iː/, and added an epenthetic glide before all other vowels, giving liy-. Before /q/, the prefix as a whole became le-.
  • The prefix-terminal /k/ of the definite plural marker became ʔ before /m n l/, č before /j i iː/ (with /j/ being dropped) and before stressed preconsonantal /ɑj/, and turned into gemination of stem-initial plosives. Before stem-initial /ʔ/, the whole prefix changed into laq-, causing deletion of the glottal stop and triggering some rather unpredictable changes in immediately following front vowels.
  • Both definite prefixes could change their initial /l/ into a different consonant when case prefixes were added; see below for details.


Five of the most frequently used prepositions of Adāta had turned into clitics early on, fusing to their head nouns and eventually ending up as case prefixes. It is thought that the development of mandatory topic-fronting helped in this process, as the proclitic adpositionals could not be left stranded in their normal syntactic position later in the sentence.

Case prefixes preceded any number/definiteness markers, and interacted with these to create some allomorphic variation. The basic case markers for Mešmo Kuyʔūn were:

direct Ø- i.e. subject and direct object
allative-dative    ayl-    i.e. "to, for"; < īla
locative-temporal om- i.e. "at, on, in"; < ob
ablative-partitive a- i.e. "from, of"; < ha and/or ax (etymology unclear)
instrumental at- i.e. "with, using"; < ate
relational-causal lo- i.e. "concerning, because of"; <

Occurring morphological complications:

  • The allative-dative prefix ayl- had the allomorphs yo- before plosives and nasals in the indefinite singular, and el- before almost all other consonants, including the /l/ of the definite prefixes. Stem-initial /j/ in the indef.sg was, however, deleted after this prefix, which retained the regular form ayl- in that case.
  • The final /m/ of the locative-temporal prefix assimilated in POA to following consonants other than /j/, causing /ʔ w l ɬ/ to mutate into /m m n t/ (including the /l/ of the definite prefixes).
  • The ablative-partitive prefix a- coalesced with the definite prefixes into assi-/assik-. With the i-allomorph of the indefinite plural prefix it combined to form ay-; with the regular a-allomorph the ablative-partitive prefix was contracted to a single long ā-, which was shortened if the following syllable carried primary stress. In the indefinite singular, an epenthetic ʔ was inserted before stem-initial vowels.
  • The final /t/ of the instrumental prefix at- shifted to ʔ before /m n l/, turned into gemination of following plosives, and coalesced with stem-initial /ʔ/ to form ł. Before vowels, the prefix as a whole became ec-.
  • The relational-causal prefix lo- added an epenthetic ʔ before vowels, and caused the definite plural prefix to mutate into -sk-/-šč- before stems beginning with a stressed vowel.


Almost all Dāiadak languages show some kind of possessor marking on possessed nominals, and Kuyʔūn was no exception. As in all other known direct daughters of Adāta, possession was indicated by suffixes derived from cliticised possessive pronouns. Unlike most of its sister languages, however, Kuyʔūn used a regularised pronoun set in which the classical plural forms were replaced by appending -k to the singular pronouns in analogy with the direct case. Also, separate forms for inanimate 3rd person referents were innovated from the demonstrative xaxe "that thing", and a 1st plural inclusive was created from the phrase i on do "I and you". (Compare the section on pronouns for the reflexes of free-standing non-possessive forms of this paradigm.)

The following table lists the basic possessive affixes for the Mešmo dialect:

singular plural
1st exclusive -i -iš
1st inclusive -yonno
2nd -yo -yoq
3rd animate -k -kaq
3rd inanimate -ʔe -ʔek

Notable irregularities were as follows:

  • The 1st exclusive endings coalesced with stem-final vowels to form a diphthong; in the plural the result was further contracted into a long monophthong, giving the suffixes -īš with stem-final /i ɛ/, and -ēš with stem-final /ɑ o/.
  • All non-3rd person forms could cause palatalisation on stem-final consonants, turning /t k q s h/ into c č k š š with dropping of the suffix-initial onglide. /t k/ were usually immune to palatalisation in the 1st exclusive, however.
  • The 3rd animate singular suffix had the alternate forms -ak with all stress-shifting nouns, and -ka after consonants other than a nasal.
  • After stem-final nasals, the 3rd animate suffixes became -na and -naq respectively, with assimilation of the preceding nasal into a geminate /nn/.
  • The suffix-initial /ʔ/ of both 3rd inanimate markers metathesised with stem-final nasals, deleted stem-final /p k q/, and disappeared with gemination of stem-final /s ʃ/. With stem-final /t/ it coalesced into ł, and with most but not all stem-final /w/ it coalesced to form ʔl. Adding 3rd inanimate suffixes to stem-final /h/ normally gave ss, but could also result in ʔl or ʔ depending on etymology. In addition, some vowel-final stems selected the ʔl allomorph instead of the expected simple glottal stop.

Some nouns had irregular stems for use in conjunction with possessive affixes; these are given in the lexicon.

Pronouns and determiners

Personal pronouns

Pronouns in Kuyʔūn inflected for case and possession using the same markers as nouns, but did not decline for definiteness. However, the case-marking system for pronouns was complicated by the fact that the Adāta distinction of direct and oblique pronouns was retained in the singular, not only as a grammatical category but also in the stems used to build the cases shared with ordinary nominals.

The Xoronic dialect of Adāta retained the original 2nd person plural pronoun dok (just like the dialects of Thāras and Lasomo, which eventually developed into Ayāsthi and Æðadĕ). As mentioned in the section on possession markers above, the pronoun system was also extended by the innovation of new 3rd person inanimate and 1st person plural inclusive forms.

   1sg       2sg    3sg.anim 3sg.inan 1pl.excl 1pl.incl    2pl    3pl.anim 3pl.inan
direct i to a ʔah ik yonno toq aq ʔaʔek
oblique in ton an ʔaʔen
allative-dative aylin yoton aylan ʔeʔlen aylik aylonno yotoq aylaq ʔeʔlek
locative-temporal omin onnon oman onnaʔen omik omyonno omyoq omaq onnaʔek
ablative-partitive ay ayo ā aʔah īš ayonno ayoq āq áʔāk
instrumental eci eco eca ałah ecik econno ecoq ecaq ałaʔek
relational-causal loy loyo loʔah lēš loyonno loyoq lāq láʔāk


   query    anaphor     this         that         some           no          every        each    
   demonstrative yo ʔa ši nam ma eu ō
person išo leyo ʔayo šiyo nanno meyo ešo ōyo
thing ʔeu leye ʔaʔe šeye naʔe maʔe eʔe ōʔe
place mau lilo ʔalo šilo nalo malo elo ōlo
time liso ʔaso šiso naʔo maso eso ōso
way ip ʔap šip nem ešip
reason ayla ʔało šiło nin mało
  • The initial consonant correspondences of the deictics were regularised; this included *seye > šeye ("that thing"), and the innovation of new proximal forms ʔaso, ʔap, ʔało (corresponding to English "now", "thus" and "therefore").
  • A separate "person" series was formed from iēbu "believer; i.e. person of Anaitist faith" and/or idō "nobleman" (etymology unclear).
  • A new series of distributive pro-forms was created from or "each"; the regular pattern suggests an analogy-based origin.
  • The "anaphor" series functioned in a similar manner to deictics; however, anaphoric pronouns could only reference a previously established sentence topic. With the "person" and "thing" anaphors, the meaning was often weakened, sometimes comparable to the semantic vagueness of a mere definiteness affix. On the other hand, the "place" and "time" anaphors were always co-circumstantial in meaning: "at the same place/time".

Some of the above correlatives could be pluralised; a few of the formations were irregular. The existing plural forms are given in the following table:

   query    anaphor     this         that    
   demonstrative isk ʔaq šik
person išoq leyoq ʔayoq šiyoq
thing ʔesk līk ʔaʔek šīk

The demonstratives yo, ʔa, and ši agreed in number with the nouns they determined. The singular-only demonstratives nam, ma, eu, and ō were only used with singular nouns; where they apparently referred to nouns in the plural, the particles were in fact not demonstratives, but quantifiers.


Adjectives in Kuyʔūn could either follow their head noun as a separate word, or be incorporated into the noun via head-final compounding. The latter was more common and seen as the unmarked construction for single adjectives; however, only one adjective at a time could be incorporated, while all additional adjectives had to be placed after their head noun. Also, incorporated adjectives could not be cast in the comparative, and there were some lexical restrictions as to which adjectives preferred the incorporated or independent constructions respectively, which meddled with the usual convention to incorporate the semantically most salient adjective only.


Incorporated adjectives were placed right before the noun stem, being subject to the usual morphophonological interaction with any preceding prefixes. However, the boundary between the adjective and the noun stem underwent only minimal phonetical changes:

  • Adjective-final unstressed vowels were dropped before noun stems beginning with a vowel unless they could either form a diphthong with noun-initial short /i/ or /o/, or the noun began with an accented short vowel of the same quality, in which case the pair of vowels coalesced into a single long vowel.
  • After adjective-final diphthongs or accented vowels, an epenthetic ʔ was inserted if the noun stem began with a vowel.
  • Adjective-final /p t k q/ reduced to ʔ before noun-initial /m n l/.
  • Adjective-final /ʦ ʧ/ became s š before any noun-initial consonant.
  • Adjective-final /m n/ assimilated in POA to noun-initial consonants other than /ʔ j w/.
  • Adjective-final /h/ became ʔ before a vowel, and disappeared with lengthening of preceding short vowels when followed by a consonant. This lengthening was blocked if the first vowel of the noun was stressed or long.
  • Noun-initial /ʔ/ metathesised with immediately preceding adjective-final /m n l/.

Independent adjectives

Independent adjectives followed their head noun, usually without any intervening morphemes save for possession markers. However, number agreement permitted some shuffling of word order, and so adjectives could occasionally be topic-fronted without their referent.

Plural marking on independent adjectives was accomplished with the suffix -k, which became -q after the back vowels /ɑ o/, coalesced with diphthongs in /-w/ into -ōq, and became -aq after all voiceless consonants except /h/, which was instead deleted with compensatory lengthening on preceding short vowels.

A comparative could be formed from the regular adjective by suffixing -neu (singular) or -nēk (plural). Before this suffix, adjective-final /p t k q h/ reduced to ʔ, /ʦ ʧ/ became s š, and /m/ assimilated to n.

A morphological superlative did not exist; however, a superlative construction could be formed by nominalising the -neu-suffixed adjective and modifying this by a postposed noun in the ablative-partitive case.


Noun phrase syntax

The canonical order of noun phrase constituents was as follows:

(demonstrative) - (quantifier) - noun - (adjectives) - (possessives) - (obliques) - (relative clause)



  cardinal      ordinal         +10           x10          x100    
1 ke liké, lasó lōke lo, keʔo keyʔi
2 ya liyá, likók lōya yaʔo yayʔi
3 iyo liʔíyo, loló lōʔyo iyoʔo iyoʔi
4 po lipó lōpo poʔo poyʔi
5 to litó lōto tōʔo toyʔi
6 leh liléh lōleh lēʔo leyʔi
7 man limán lōman māʔo mayʔi
8 ʔoy liʔóy lōʔoy ʔoyʔo ʔoyʔi
9 no linó lōno nayʔo nayʔi
  10 lo, keʔo liʔó yaʔo iʔi mēla
  • The reflex of "three" was completely replaced by the Habeo borrowing iyo except for a fossilised ordinal; this was almost certainly triggered by the numbers 3 and 10 becoming homophonous in XVA. The same sound change caused the compound formation ke ro to spread, resulting in an alternate word for "ten".
  • Due to another major case of near-homophony (this time between the ordinals of 1-9 and the cardinal numbers 11-19), the ordinal prefix lu- was superseded by the emerging definite article.
  • The initial /l/ of the number 6 originally appeared in the derived forms only, but was extended to the cardinal.
  • The word for 1000 was borrowed from Adhāsth méıllə.
  • The first three numbers possessed both regular and irregular ordinal forms. The latter were far more common; in addition to the numeral value they carried a connotation of ranking. The regular variants were more neutral; they were used mainly when listing inanimate things (e.g. in business).
    • lasó < XVA *rē asu "the primary X, the leading X"
    • likók < definite article + Yellow Habeo koko "two"
    • loló < fossilised direct reflex of Ad. luzō

All numerals were nouns, and as such could take regular inflections for case and possession.

Numbers higher than 100 were formed as phrasal compounds with the conjunction on. Only the first element of such compounds could take case prefixes, and only the last element could take possession suffixes.

  • yayʔi on poʔoman
    ya-iʔi on poʔo-man
    two-hundred and forty-seven

To express the quantity of a nominal constituent, a possessive construction with the numeral in the role of syntactic head was employed. The numeral took the appropriate inflection for case, and was marked for the noun in question with possession affixes. The noun itself was cast in the ablative-partitive case if it was indefinite, and in the direct case if it was definite.

  • íyokaq akiʔlo
    iyo-kaq a-a-kiʔlo
    three-3PL.ANIM ABL-INDEF.PL-sheep
    three sheep
  • omyaʔek lippáu
    om-ya-ʔek lik-pau
    LOC-two-3PL.INAN DEF.PL-lake
    near the two lakes

An adjectivial construction in which the noun fulfilled the role of head for a postposed attributive numeral was also possible, but considered archaic literary style.

  • likoyan lōto
    lik-oyan lōto
    DEF.PL-law fifteen
    the Fifteen Laws (of Zārakātias)

Other quantifiers

pa few
nam   some   
oʔa many
mi none
eu all
ō each

These quantifiers uniformly preceded their nouns; however, two semantically distinct constructions were possible. In the first one, the quantifier was an invariable particle placed immediately before the inflected noun, signifying its absolute quantity. In the second construction, which had a partitive meaning, the noun was cast in the ablative-partitive case (and usually in the definite plural as well), and the quantifier behaved like a noun which could inflect for other cases if necessary.

  • pa alān
    pa a-lān
    few INDEF.PL-year
    a few years
  • nam assičīm
    nam a-lik-īm
    some ABL-DEF.PL-man
    some of the men

Possessive phrases

Possessive phrases were formed by inflecting the possessed noun for the person and number of the possessor, and placing the possessor in the possessive slot of the NP, after any single-word adjectives but before locatives and relative clauses. The possessor usually received no overt case marking, though inflection for the ablative-partitive case was possible to specify non-congruent possession. Stacking of multiple possessive relationships was possible.

  • liyopākiska liciska
    li-opākis-k li-ciska
    DEF.SG-throne-3SG.ANIM DEF.SG-king
    the throne of the king
  • limaʔlek likšéʔnakaq assikoyso
    li-mal-ʔek lik-šenih-kaq a-lik-oyso
    DEF.SG-ornament-3PL.INAN DEF.PL-armor-3PL.ANIM ABL-DEF.PL-soldier
    the decoration of the armor of some of the soldiers

Oblique noun phrases

The oblique slot held all appositional noun phrases in a non-direct case. This included locatives, benefactives, partitives, and relationals, all of which were marked directly on the appositional noun, and adnominal phrases introduced by a free-standing preposition.

Case usage

The allative-dative case (glossed as dat) was used for indicating targets of motion, directions, recipients, and beneficiaries. It was also used to demote direct objects to attributes of the subject.

  • leqōsah ayl-Áʔlolo
    li-qōsah ayl-Aʔlolo
    DEF.SG-trade.route DAT-Akelodo
    the trade route to Akelodo
  • liʔlakso elličaʔa
    lik-lakso ayl-li-čaʔa
    DEF.PL-tax DAT-DEF.SG-council
    the taxes for the city council
  • liyaqau ellipanî
    li-aqau ayl-li-panī
    DEF.SG-murderer DAT-DEF.SG-priest
    the killer of the priest

The locative-temporal case (loc) indicated the location of an object in space or of an event in time.

  • ličó onnicīya
    li-čo om-li-cīya
    DEF.SG-barley LOC-DEF.SG-storage.room
    the barley in the storage room
  • liyáyolo om-Lātyo
    li-ayolo om-Lātyo
    DEF.SG-market LOC-Midsummer
    the market at Midsummer

The ablative-partitive case (abl) was used to indicate source of motion, origin, material, unit of counting, and standard of comparison.

  • linommo a-Kāʔan
    li-nommo a-Kāʔan
    DEF.SG-merchant ABL-Kasca
    the merchant from Kasca
  • tayne ayceʔo
    Ø-tayne a-a-ceʔo
    INDEF.SG-tower ABL-INDEF.PL-stone
    a tower made of stone

The instrumental case (ins) denoted instruments, tools, manner and circumstance. It could also indicate the causer or patron of an action, or the agent of a verb in the passive voice.

  • poye atsōn
    Ø-poye at-Ø-sōn
    INDEF.SG-injury INS-INDEF.SG-spear
    a wound from a spear

The relational-causal case (rel) was used to indicate reasons, characteristics, abstract goals, affinity or involvement, and other kinds of general association.

  • īwo loʔišinelīte
    Ø-īwo lo-a-šin-elīte
    INDEF.SG-rest REL-INDEF.PL-wet-weather
    a rest because of bad weather
  • ołay loliʔleya allin
    Ø-ołay lo-lik-leya allin
    INDEF.SG-expert REL-DEF.PL-law Athalēran
    an expert in Athalēran law
  • állayo lo-Ánicay
    Ø-allayo lo-Anicay
    INDEF.SG-temple REL-Anaitī
    a temple in honor of Anaitī

Prepositional phrases

Kuyʔūn had turned the most common of Adāta's prepositions into case prefixes; however, some specialised prepositions remained, and others were borrowed from Habeo languages. All of these normally governed the direct case (with pronouns: the oblique case), but they could also be used in conjunction with the other cases to create more refined meanings.

yo as, like, while < iu
pen with (comitative) < pen
inside <
yono before, in front of < īlanu
au after, behind, except for    < uza "after" & al "without"   
aʔi above, on top of < axē "upward"
īn under < ēna "downward"
pot to the right of < Y.H. put
mipi to the left of < Y.H. mipi
cocit    next to, outside of < Y.H. cucit "near, close"
nitat all around, throughout < Pl.H. nɨtat
sēt through, via, along < R.H. si:te
  • litimo onnitolo
    li-timo om-li-tolo
    DEF.SG-child LOC-DEF.SG-table
    the child at the table (i.e. sitting at the table)
  • litimo aʔi litolo/onnitolo
    li-timo aʔi (om-)li-tolo
    DEF.SG-child above (LOC-)DEF.SG-table
    the child on top of the table
  • litimo aʔi ellitolo
    li-timo aʔi ayl-li-tolo
    DEF.SG-child above DAT-DEF.SG-table
    the child that is climbing on top of the table

Clausal syntax

To Be Continued...
Cedh is still working on section. The contents are incomplete and likely to undergo changes.


Main clauses

Subordinate clauses

Relative clauses




Kuyʔūn permitted several methods of changing the part of speech of individual lexemes by zero-derivation. The most important processes were as follows:

  • ADJ > N
Adjectives could be turned into abstract inanimate nouns denoting the quality in question by simply inflecting them as a nominal. Definiteness prefixes used with such nouns indicated that a certain degree of the quality was referenced; precisely which degree was meant had to be deduced from context.
  • ADJ > ADV
Adjectives could be turned into adverbs by first nominalising them, and then inflecting them for the instrumental case.
  • ADJ > V
Adjectives could be turned into intransitive, mostly stative verbs by simply applying verbal inflection. Sometimes the addition of a classifier could turn such deadjectival verbs into transitives; however, the more common way of transitivising was inflection for causative voice.
  • V > N
Verbal participles could be inflected nominally to indicate an animate subject noun, usually referring to the agent. As a means to morphologically disambiguate these from the similarly formed verbal action nouns, possessive affixes were usually not added to the pure participle, but to a derived singulative stem using suffixed -co (see -s below).
  • N > V
Nouns could be turned into verbs denoting the process they were the result of by simply inflecting the nominal stem as a verb in the causative voice. A rare but attested further development was voice-stacking, whereby such an inherently causative verb could be inflected for any of the verbal voices, including another layer of causativity. (Strictly speaking, however, this is not "zero-derivation" anymore, but the inflectional causative affix reinterpreted as derivational.)

Derivational morphology

Due to the rather mangling sound change history of Kuyʔūn, which included several phonemic mergers and widespread syncope of unstressed medial and final vowels, some of the derivational morphology inherited from Adāta had become unproductive. However, new affixes were created from a number of originally separate lexemes, and in addition some methods of derivation were borrowed from Habeo languages.

A common morphophonological change in older derivational affixes was vowel lengthening; this entailed the irregular relationships /ɛ/ > ī and /i/ > ay (which then contracted to ē in closed syllables).

The following derivational affixes were of Adāta vintage:

  • -ya
A locative suffix that could be added to any part of speech, causing lengthening in preceding stressed vowels, and the (re-)insertion of vowels after stem-final consonants. Not very productive, but found in the lexicon in fossilised lexemes such as cīya "storage room" or kāya "school" as well as in more recent coinages, e.g. šímaya "hometown" from šim- "to live".
  • -la
Another suffix that could be added to any part of speech, forming inanimate abstract nouns, often with an inherent collective or plural sense in relation to the unsuffixed lexeme. Immediately preceding stressed vowels always became long before this suffix; and in older formations, consonant deletion was sometimes also observed, often accompanied by the suffix appearing in the allomorph -ʔa, as in the opaque derivation īʔa "family" from len "son". In the productive variant, however, only the usual glottalisation of plosives immediately preceding /l/ did occur. Examples: toyla "prayer" from toya- "to plead", nōcola "court, jury" from nōs "judge".
  • -s
A singulative nominaliser, indicating membership in a group or partaking of a characteristic. Could be used with nouns and adjectives, but not with verbs. After consonants the allomorph -so was found (-co after /m n/, -šo after /ʃ/). Examples: čaʔas "member of the city council" from čaʔa "council", leššo "healthy person" from leš "healthy".
  • -ʔo
A suffix indicating an associated person (male by default); could be attached to any part of speech. Most occurrences in the lexicon were fossilised, e.g. mayʔo "shepherd" from Ad. māia-rō "pasture-man".
  • -aš
A suffix attaching to gender-neutral or masculine animate nouns to create a specifically feminine equivalent. Preceding short unstressed /ɑ o/ were deleted, and preceding short unstressed /i ɛ/ were reduced to y where phonotactically possible, coalescing with adjacent /t k ʔ s/ into c č š š. The suffix-final sibilant /ʃ/ itself would fortify into č when possessive affixes were added. Examples: ciskaš "queen" from ciska "king", appaš "girlfriend" from appo "friend".
  • -n
An all-purpose adjectivalising suffix; could be added to any part of speech, with lengthening of immediately preceding stressed vowels. After consonants, the variant -in was used, which was of a different, more recent etymological origin (from Adāta ēn "manner, method"). Highly productive. Examples: mołon "watchful" from moło "guard", iʔāwin "descriptive" from iʔāwa- "to describe", somman "optimistic" from somma- "to wish".
  • -mmi
Another adjectivalising suffix, indicating privation (lack of something). After consonants other than /j w/, this suffix was preceded by an epenthetic vowel, usually o. Highly productive, mostly with nominal roots (e.g. mínammi "orphaned" from min "mother", kīsommi "poor" from kīs "gold"), but could also be used with adjectives and adverbs to form antonyms (e.g. péʔammi "cowardly" from peʔa "brave").
  • -ta
A verbalising suffix, which denoted the typical activity of the noun it attached to. Stem-final /w/ which became /s/ in the 3rd person animate possessed forms did so before this affix as well. A few older formations additionally exhibited dropping of stem-final vowels. Examples: cískata- "to reign" from ciska "king", ōnta- "to cure" from auno "doctor".

Some more recent morphology, innovated from morphemes that were not derivational at the time of Adāta or borrowed from Habeo languages:

  • -os
An affectionate diminutive, formed from abesa "neat". This suffix attached only to nouns. Preceding short unstressed /ɑ o/ were deleted, and preceding short unstressed /i ɛ/ were reduced to y where phonotactically possible, coalescing with adjacent /t k ʔ s/ into c č š š. Examples: melos "daddy" from meu "father", pimos "darling" from pimo "star".
  • -pi
The reverse of -os: a rather formal augmentative/honorific suffix, which could be added to nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, creating nouns that were usually animate. It was derived from "big, powerful". Preceding unstressed vowels were deleted after intervocalic /s ʃ m n l j w/, and the resulting clusters were simplified, with the changes /n/ > m, /h/ > s, and /l/ > s or w taking place. Examples: nōspi "supreme judge" from nōs "judge", tyōpi "unity" from tīwa "together".
  • -eyo
This suffix, which was formed from eiabu "instrument, means", derived inanimate instrument nouns from verbs, attaching to the secondary stem with replacement of unstressed stem-final vowels. After stressed stem-final vowels the suffix reduced to -yo with compensatory lengthening, and after single consonants other than /j w ʃ ʧ/, both the stem-final and prefix-initial vowels were dropped. Examples: áymeyo "needle" from ayma- "to sew", éłoʔyo "hearth, oven" from éłoʔa- "to cook", náppeyo "dung, mulch" from nappa- "to grow".
  • -o
A suffix resulting from lexicalisation of the Adāta habitual passive singular. It attached to verbs to form an associated patient noun, which could be both animate or inanimate, depending on the referent. In productive usage, the primary stem was used, with any stem-final vowels or diphthongs being replaced by the suffix; if these vowels would have been stressed, the suffix became a long . In the possessed forms, the stem vowel resurfaced, and the suffix allomorphed into -l. Irregular older formations were fairly common, especially with stress-shifting verbs where the difference between primary and secondary stem was significant. Examples: eso "firewood" from eseu, eła- "to burn", čiwo "bridled horse" from čō, čōla- "to tie", teʔmo "commodity" from tekim, teʔma- "to trade", ponno "refugee" from ponna- "to flee".
  • ayʔa-
A verbal prefix indicating distortion or failure of the action, originating in lexicalisation of the Adāta futilitive mood prefix īra-. Before stem-initial vowels or voiced consonants, the prefix-final /ɑ/ was dropped. Examples: ayʔlało- "to mishear" from lało- "to listen", ayʔnīʔana- "to get lost" from nīʔana- "to turn".
  • wo-
An iterative verbal prefix, denoting repeated or restarted actions, formed from "again". The prefix coalesced with stressed stem-initial short vowels /i ɛ ɑ o/ to poy- poy- pā- pau- in open syllables and to pē- pē- pā- pō- in closed syllables. With unstressed short vowels the same vowel changes occurred (albeit with positional shortening), but the prefix-initial consonant remained /w/. Before long vowels, the prefix became waw-. In some older formations (but not in productive usage), unstressed stem-initial syllables were syncopated. Examples: wosāte- "to restart" from sāte- "to start", woʔlāla- "to pass on" from pilāla- "to send", pāwi- "to say again" from awi- "to say".
  • eša-
An intensifying verbal prefix, formed from asada "greatly". Before vowels, plosives, and sibilants, the prefix-final /ɑ/ was dropped, with assimilation of stem-initial /s ʦ/ to š č. Examples: ešenta- "to be overwhelmed" from yanta- "to feel", ešalošša- "to testify" from lošša- "to answer".
  • ma-
A prefix that could attach to adjectives and adverbs, signifying the opposite quality or manner. Cognate to the verbal negative marker ma-, from which it was most likely created by analogy, seeing as it indeed exhibited the exact same allomorphy as the verbal prefix, most importantly dropping of the /ɑ/ before stem-initial vowels. However, it was still clearly derivational rather than an inflectional polarity marker, both because the meaning was at times somewhat idiomatic, and because ordinary negative predication used a negated copula, not a negated adjective. Examples: mátonna "easy" from átonna "difficult", macayō "exceptional" from cayō "frequent, common", mayōʔo "dispensable" from yōʔo "venerable, traditional".
  • opi-
An attenuative prefix that could attach to adjectives (and, occasionally, to nouns) without changing word class, derived from Y.H. opi "nearly, almost". Before stem-initial /i/ and /p/ the prefix-final /i/ was dropped; before other stem-initial vowels it reduced to y. If this prefix was attached to noun stems, the accent shifted to the first syllable of the prefix. Examples: oppoših "chilly" from poših "cold", ópičisto "minor problem" from čisto "challenge".

Sample text

The legend of Emperor Tsinakan

Main article: Tsinakan text

Šinnan, ececen liʔélociska, ececen licískaʔe liláh a-Kāʔan, ececen limīktakaq lilám on liyēpe, lawin ʔap:

Yono ʔipáʔespiyeni onniyopākiska limeli, yapīkonti eu assaqōlała aylin. ʔap lauyo aq: "Limeska a ciska peʔa, atyappéłayenna oʔa aʔōyolah. To ʔaso táʔayan šiyo yo nak, on teʔi ʔipaʔiš onniyopākiska liméu."

Ałipáʔeyeni onniyopākiska limeli, pilo yono yappásoyeni ellaqōlała loʔīkoniyennaq aylin, loʔinonan i, ececen limīktakaq lilám on liyēpe, elliʔlīcak lo-Ōʔi. ʔaq ʔimílakon i, on littoni yoʔappan ellitōtimmin. ʔap lawin i: "Ton, litōtimméti, leqennaq lippimo! Laqōlała loyapámmaytalan in, appapāliyennaq loy teʔi. Ončip loʔiponcay aq litīkonayo koło, litōtimméti! Layyapoči laqamen!"

Litōtimmin yolałon loliktoylay yo appoy. A yoʔappan in, on yeššaʔin ayot ellittoni. Onkéʔoʔek alān yapceʔan i ešo yapōkayen in. ʔayoq loyapoqālan i. I yapōyen ayātay, on ičōyen aminčak on akiʔlo, on eu āq pilástalan i elliláh a-Kāʔan.

Interlinear gloss

Šinnan, who was the great-king, who was the king of the land of Kāʔan, who was the brother of the sun and the moon, said this:
Before I was accepted to hold the throne of my father, all of the foreign countries were hostile towards me.
This said they:
"The father of him was a valiant king, with his conquest of many enemy countries.
But now that person has become a god, and a child is holding the father's throne."
When I held the throne of my father,
even before I turned against the foreign countries because they were hostile towards me,
did I, the brother of the sun and the moon, go to the feasts of the mother goddess.
I celebrated these, and I raised my hands to the divine mother.
This said I:
You, my divine lady, the light of the stars!
The foreign countries have caused shame for me, with their calling me a baby.
Also they are attacking your holy land, my divine lady!
Strike down the heretics!"
The divine mother listened to my prayers like a true friend of mine.
She rose me up, and gave power to my hands.
Within ten years I defeated everyone who was resisting me.
I destroyed them.
I captured prisoners, and I captured cattle and sheep, and I had all of these sent to the land of Kāʔan.

A song for the rain

A song about the rain.

It is raining.
At night, all over the barren plains.
My heart does not fear.

Raindrops are falling.
In the day, onto the leaves.
My heart is optimistic.

The day of the rain has come.
For many days, in the mountains.
My heart may sing.


See also